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Around the SEC: Week 1

Florida and South Carolina: maybe bad? Texas A&M: maybe a contender?

NCAA Football: New Mexico at Texas A&M Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to our weekly trip around the SEC. SEC teams not named Vanderbilt went 10-3 on the season’s opening weekend. All three of the losses came against Top 25 teams, but at least two of them probably revealed some disturbing things about the losing team, so let’s take a look.

Utah 24, Florida 11: Ew. Utah is a good team with a strong defense, no doubt — but Florida netted 13 rushing yards on 21 attempts. Granted, eight of those were “Graham Mertz,” who definitely wasn’t running the ball eight times — those were sacks — but that’s part of the problem. Florida doesn’t have an offensive line. It’s a problem. It’s still a Dan Mullen problem (meaning, this is just a result of Mullen not really recruiting, like, at all), but it’s a huge problem.

Missouri 35, South Dakota 10: Don’t confuse South Dakota — a 3-8 FCS team last season — with FCS national champions South Dakota State; Missouri basically did what you’re supposed to against a mediocre FCS team and nothing more. Brady Cook went 17-for-21 but averaged 8.2 yards per attempt, which isn’t a good number when you’re facing an FCS team and only threw four incompletions. His hold on the starting job is... tenuous, to say the least.

Tennessee 49, Virginia 13: I’m really not sure if Tennessee’s defense is that good, because Virginia’s offense is just terrible, and how their head coach was an offensive coordinator is not clear. I’m really curious how solid Joe Milton’s hold on the job is — he averaged 6.7 yards per attempt, and five-star true freshman Nico Iamaleava saw his first action late in the game, so Tennessee’s clearly not intending to redshirt him.

Kentucky 44, Ball State 14: This was actually a meh performance from Devin Leary, but we’ve got plenty of evidence that he’s better than this. Ray Davis had 112 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns, which... hey, why the hell is he playing here?

Arkansas 56, Western Carolina 13: Nothing to see here, just a routine blowout of an FCS team.

Ole Miss 73, Mercer 7: Nothing like Lane Kiffin running up the score on an FCS team. Ole Miss somehow only managed 4.3 yards per carry on the ground? Might be worth monitoring.

Auburn 59, UMass 14: For some reason this game was on ESPN? Payton Thorne doesn’t exactly look like the answer at quarterback (8.3 yards per attempt, 10-for-17) but then Auburn’s other options weren’t good, either.

Mississippi State 48, SE Louisiana 7: Mississippi State ran the ball 39 times and threw it 29. Mike Wright ran it five times (for 95 yards) and didn’t attempt a pass. This... is an interesting transition.

Georgia 48, UT-Martin 7: Georgia led 17-0 at the half. Yeah. That’s a thing that happened. I’m sure there was an element of “don’t show all your cards” here, but Georgia averaging 5.3 yards per carry against an FCS defense is... worth monitoring?

Texas A&M 52, New Mexico 10: Well, the Bobby Petrino offense is working so far: Connor Weigman threw five touchdown passes and had a 97.2 QB rating, the best in the SEC in Week 1. We’ll see if this is real or just the result of playing a bad team, but through one week A&M looks like a contender.

Alabama 56, Middle Tennessee 7: Jalen Milroe claimed the starting job in Week 1 and looked fine, albeit against MTSU. We’ll find out pretty quickly if Alabama’s defense is back in form... and, also, if Milroe is for real.

North Carolina 31, South Carolina 17: Spencer Rattler was mostly fine (30-for-39, 353 yards passing), though he didn’t throw a touchdown pass. The offensive line? Well, South Carolina had 31 rushing attempts for -2 yards. Woof.

Florida State 45, LSU 24: Of the three teams that lost, LSU is the one that didn’t reveal any glaring problems; Florida State is just good. Sure, LSU’s defense got shredded through the air, but we might look back on this and think “LSU just ran into a buzzsaw.”

Power Rankings

  1. Georgia: Yeah, blah performance against UT-Martin. They’re still #1.
  2. Alabama: Looked like you’re supposed to look against MTSU.
  3. Texas A&M: Maybe a bit aggressive with this ranking, but if the offense is functional now, the defense should be more than fine.
  4. Tennessee: How much of the Week 1 performance was just Virginia being bad? I’m still not sold on Joe Milton. Or the defense.
  5. LSU: Taking a temporary hit because they lost, but should be fine.
  6. Ole Miss: How much should you really take away from beating up on Mercer?
  7. Arkansas: Really, teams 7 through 10 could be ranked in any order.
  8. Kentucky: Devin Leary should be better than he looked in the season opener.
  9. Auburn: I still have a ton of questions about their quarterback play.
  10. Mississippi State: Had more trouble with Southeastern Louisiana in the first half than the final score implies.
  11. Missouri: Kind of mailed it in against South Dakota, still massive questions at quarterback.
  12. South Carolina: Spencer Rattler may get killed playing behind this offensive line.
  13. Florida: The difference between them and South Carolina is that Graham Mertz is their quarterback.
  14. Vanderbilt: 2-0, but I’ve yet to see anything that would lead me to rank them ahead of anyone else.

Week 2 Schedule

  • Vanderbilt at Wake Forest (10:00 AM CT, ACC Network): Brunch football!
  • Ball State at Georgia (11:00 AM CT, SEC Network): We’re not learning anything about Georgia this week, either.
  • Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky (2:00 PM CT, SEC Network+): Frequently overlooked how soft Kentucky’s nonconference schedule is, every year.
  • Ole Miss at Tulane (2:30 PM CT, ESPN2): And you thought SEC play started next week.
  • Texas A&M at Miami (2:30 PM CT, ABC): I wouldn’t say A&M is for real if they win this, but they’re definitely not if they lose.
  • Kent State at Arkansas (3:00 PM CT, SEC Network): Blah.
  • Austin Peay at Tennessee (4:00 PM CT, SEC Network+): Blah.
  • Texas at Alabama (6:00 PM CT, ESPN): Next season, this will be an SEC game.
  • Middle Tennessee at Missouri (6:00 PM CT, SEC Network+): Missouri plays the first of four FBS teams from Tennessee (there are four FBS teams in Tennessee.)
  • Grambling at LSU (6:30 PM CT, SEC Network+): The halftime show should be good!
  • McNeese at Florida (6:30 PM CT, ESPNU): Look, I don’t think Florida is going to lose this (McNeese is bad even for an FCS team), but I do think there’s going to be a massive Twitter meltdown when it’s 10-7 at halftime.
  • Arizona at Mississippi State (6:30 PM CT, SEC Network): The Pac-12, by the way, is undefeated after Week 1.
  • Furman at South Carolina (6:30 PM CT, SEC Network+): Possibly more dangerous than you think: Furman was 10-3 last season.
  • Auburn at Cal (9:30 PM CT, ESPN): Yeah, the SEC’s Week 2 schedule starts at 10 AM and will probably end around 1 AM.